The Billings Outpost

Evaluating TV choices, PBS looks ever better

This weekend I joined thousands in evaluating my near-monopoly internet service. The price had risen again, and it was time for me to get in or get out.

Dropping my rump into a Lazy Boy and snatching my remote from an end table, I was ready to shoot.

The first thing to appear in the Cyclops’ eye was our old friend and addiction, the SitCom. Sitcoms once starred genuine comics, stand-up funny men.

Things have changed a bit since yesterday. Today a new sitcom is more likely to lead with an odd mix: black and white, gay and straight, animal and human, human and alien. Nostalgic for the days of Red Skelton, Amos and Andy, Lucile Ball and other bona fide funny folk, I scratched sitcoms from my list of desirable fare.

My favorite sitcoms were the ones with gimmicks – a talking horse like Ed, a alien like Mork, anything laced with witchcraft or magic. 

Amos and Andy, of course, would not fly today, but there’s a lot on the tube now that would have blown tubes and fuses in the 1950s. Back then men and women did not sleep in the same bed and a mixed couple (black and white — not gay and straight) would never enter a bar together.

The next production to appear on the screen was a pseudo news show with all the latest dish on the parade of bimbos. Starring in these creations are a dozen or more anorexic young ladies who are famous for being famous and for climbing carelessly into a taxi wearing no underwear under their dresses.

These bimbos and bimbettes take turns going to drug and alcohol treatment, being arrested for shoplifting and being bailed out by their outrageously rich parents.

These girls are no more ill behaved than the freelance photographers who follow them around, hoping to get a peek at the panties when the next cab arrives.

News shows run eight to 10 hours a day, every day, except when no news breaks. In that case, a news special might preempt the football game you looked forward to seeing, the final episode of the sitcom, presidential debate or documentary you hoped to watch.

Reality shows have no connection with reality, of course. These begin with a dozen or so contestants loaded on a yacht, hauled out to sea and dumped overboard. From there, all players make their way ashore to a tropical island where they will re-invent fire, the wheel and board games.

The group is divided into two teams. Each has a name like Guana or Shemchilo. The teams compete in beach games. Someone is sent home every day or so for poor participation in the beach Olympics.

Contestants get really sneaky, making friends with players of the other team and plotting to win the game’s jackpot.

Let me stop right here and reveal what my strategy would be. I would stop one of the players in the jungle or at the beach and say, “Hey! What say we join forces, win the million dollars and split between us? We should probably share this scheme with several of the others.”

The fact that this plan is never used leads me to believe that there are game cops on the island. We know the players are not alone. Filming of the show would require a camera crew. Safety would demand a lifeguard or two, a couple of security guards and a doctor. Somewhere on the island we would find a big glass and chrome snack shop.

Animal shows probably outnumber reality and sitcom shows. I once loved these but have grown to hate them. I loved them when I was an 11-year-old animal lover.

Today’s shows are not an animal lover’s fare. A show begins with a lioness with two cubs. Mama Lion hunts, feeds her babies and teaches them to avoid being eaten by the hyenas. Daddy Lion lies around in the sun, yawning, roaring at any gnat or jackal that crosses Leo’s field of vision.

Other highlights include gnus being pulled into the river and drowned by a 12-foot croc that grabs its nose and twirls until the wildebeest disappears underwater.

Or a 12-foot giraffe taken down by a half dozen lions or an elephant killed by a pack of lions attacking in the dark. As much as I hate seeing bloody baby lions, watching a really large animal pulled down is even worse.

But that’s it. That’s entertainment, folks. Me, I’m going to watch a lot of PBS in the near future.

Copyright 2012 Wild Raspberry Inc.

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